Why does Edith Wharton choose to use a framing device for her narrative?

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daveb eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In response to the last answer, allow me to agree, though I'd twist the answer slightly. I'm not sure that it makes the narrator more reliable, but it does allow us to see the problems with the narrator's tale much easier.

For instance, when Ethan and Mattie have dinner, my favorite paragraph says how she "seemed fuller" and overall, becomes incredibly attractive...just because she had a red bow in her hair. The narrator doesn't take issue with the sudden change in appearance, but merely presenting it to the reader allows us the chance to question how Ethan could see her that much more sexual,...

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raskew eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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gbeatty eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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revolution | Student

This literary technique is used as the same significant element at the beginning of the story to the end of it. This repeated elements creates bits and pieces from the book and put it all together to form a tight "frame" which the main thesis and the plot can work out in a detailed manner. It is to hold the story together and provide some literary context, to create some interest to the readers and to create some resolution to the entire story. This type of method is to create suspense and mystery.

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king70 | Student

The framed narrative (flashback) means a story within a story, and that give us the hint of story (that help us to know Ethan well; his accident causing his face unapproachable, nad etc).

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